Japan’s Digital Agency to catalog private-sector tech

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Minister for Digital Transformation Taro Kono speaks about measures to promote digital technology in Tokyo on Aug. 29.

The Digital Agency plans to create a catalog of digital technologies owned by private-sector companies and make it public in fiscal 2023, according to sources.

The catalog will be used to review so-called analog regulations — such as requiring that infrastructure be visually inspected to verify safety — while supporting the development of sales channels for small and midsize companies and startups with superior digital technology.

The agency plans to include ¥4.51 billion in its second supplemental budget for fiscal 2022 to fund the catalog, the sources said.

Both domestic and foreign companies will be asked to list their technologies in the catalog, and ministries and agencies with appropriate jurisdiction will verify the effectiveness and safety of the technologies. A group of experts will determine the criteria for technologies to be included in the catalog, according to the sources.

The government has decided to review by June 2024 about 9,000 analog provisions set under laws and regulations. The review will consider the use of digital technologies listed in the catalog. For example, in the future, it is envisaged that drones and underwater robots will be used to check the safety of rivers and dams rather than being visually inspected by people on-site, and that artificial intelligence will be used to survey disaster damage.

Even though many small and midsize companies and startups possess advanced digital technologies, it is often difficult for them to develop sales channels due to a lack of sales knowledge and credibility. However, if their technologies were to be listed in the catalog, it effectively would mean they are endorsed by the Digital Agency, thus helping to boost their credibility and sales.

The catalog is also expected to benefit companies currently considering the use of digital technology.